tv Tavis Smiley WHUT April 7, 2011 7:00pm-7:30pm EDT
angeles. i'm tavis smiley. first up tonight, a conversation about a potential government shutdown with the ranking democrat on the house budget committee, chris van hollen of maryland. if congress and the white house cannot agree on a compromise, the u.s. government could run out of money and shut down on friday. also five-time emmy-nominated actress kim cattrall is here. her new film, "meet monica velour," opens in new york and l.a. chris van hollen and actress kim cattrall coming up right now. >> all i know is his name is james, and he needs extra help with his reading. >> i am james. >> yes.
difference -- >> thankou. you help us allive better >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley with every question and every answer. nationwide insurance is proud to join vewotonag rkin pim prove financial literacy and remove obstacles to economic empowerment one nation at a time. nationwide is on your side. >> and by contbuti pbs statiofrom v viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television] tavis: a quick programming note here first. starting tomorrow night on this program, legendary talk show host, the kingor talk, larry king is here as he turned the tables on me for a couple of nights. i had the great honor of filling in for him on his show on cnn.
we will focus on the lessons that i learned in my life my 20-year career in broadcasting. chris van hollen is the ranking democrat on the house budget committee who has been at the center of the house budget negotiations and he joins us tonight from capitol hill. where else can he be with defcon 3 upon us. good to have you on the program. thanks for your time, sir. >> good to be here, tavis. tavis: i made a joke about defcon. friday is d-day. >> well, that's where it is. it is headed in the wrong direction right now. because what you have is a total takeover of the house republican party by the tea party, when speaker boehner is no longer driving the train. it has been taken over by the tea party train. they have taken the position
unless they get 100% of that they want they are going to shut down government. that is making for a very difficult situation. the president is working very hard to reach a compromise. in fact, the president put on the table the amount that speaker boehner originally proposed. in fact, a little bit higher and they keep moving the goal posts. tavis: how is it we keep getting different reports? we hear one minute that we're headed in the wrong direction and then we get a glimmer of home a couple of days ago with the meeting between boehner and reid. is there any progress being made at all? >> well, look, it is uncertain. all the feedback and all the sort of signs that keep coming out of the house republican caucus is that we may be headed to a shutdown. let's put it this way. yesterday it was reported that when speaker boehner told his caucus that they were going to shut down the government, say that got a standing ovation.
and so if that is the sentiment in the republican caucus, it means trouble when it comes to shutdown. look. make no mistake. it would be a big problem for the congress, for the country if the federal government gets shut down and i know the president and those of us in the democratic side and even some in the republican leadership have been trying to avoid it but this is what happens when you a runaway caucus that doesn't follow the cooler sort of views of their speaker. tavis: congressman, as you see it, is this about partisan politics or principle differences? >> well, here is the reason i think it is about partisan politics. not only are the tea party folks and the republican congress demanding a certain amount of cuts. they are demanding that we make their cuts. if you were really interested just in deficit reduction, it
would not make whether you were making a dollar cut in education, which they want to do, or whether you were taking away a dollar subsidy from the oil and gas companies, which is what we said. we said let's not cut education or cancer research at n.i.h. or critical investments in our country. let's get rid of some of the big taxpayer giveaways and they said no even though both would impact the deficit. for example, they want to use these discussions on the budget as a vehicle to place their social agenda on the country. they said we want cuts to family planning at planned parenthood. they are using this budget as a vehicle to impose their sort of social agenda on the country. it is not just about deficits. we can deal with deficits. that involves choices. we choose to get rid of tax
breaks for special interests. they choose to cut education, cancer research and critical national investments. tavis: how ill-timed. that is my word, not yours. you may want something else but how ill-timed is this debate? you start reading certain columnists who said repeatedly that now is not the time. the deficit is a real conversation, but at this point in the nation's fragile economy, this is not the moment to make deficit reduction a priority. i'm curious as to your thoughts about balancing the budget and the debate about deficit reduction. >> you have to look at two time frames. what the republicans are proposing are very deep and immediate cuts. there is no doubt about it. that will hurt the fragile economic recovery. it will slow down job growth at a terrible time. we just finally seen a couple of
months of very positive job growth. in fact, we saw other 200,000 jobs created last month. the chairman of the federal reserve ben bernanke said if you adopted all the proposed cuts you would lose 200,000 jobs. his wu the lowest estimate. had all kinds of estimates. up to 700,000. so it is simply bad for jobs and the economy to take these deep cuts in the short term. now it is true, absolutely true that we need to act now to put our long-term deficits on a downward path and that is what the democrats are proposing, a responsible and predictable way of doing that, not a crash and burn approach that will both hurt jobs in the short term and also deny critical investments, important economic growth in the longer term. in other words, let's have a balanced approach in the fiscal commission. the authors of the fiscal commission said yesterday that
if house republican budget was not a balanced and comprehensive approach because they didn't ask the wealthiest americans to help share in the sacrifice of getting the budget down. tavis: since you raise the democratic party on this issue and the white house, you trays issue of jobs and the numbers that -- raise the issue of jobs and the numbers that coim out, the 200,000 jobs created in the last month, tell me how it is or why it is that we have not heard any real conversation about the fact that in the franche community in particular unemployment -- in the african-american community in particular unemployment went up. black people in this country vote overwhelmingly for the democratic party. the president announced this week his re election in the african-american community in particular, the only community in this country as the loyal base of the democratic party, unemployment goes up and nobody in washington has said didly
about that. why is that, sir? >> well, tavis, you're absolutely right. what we have said is that there are some positive signs that the overall economy is picking up but it would be a huge mistake for anybody to declare victory for the reasons you talked about. you have african-americans still out of work in much greater numbers than the rest of the population, which is exactly why we have said it would be a huge mistake to take the kind of actions the republicans are proposing now which would put that fragile recovery risk. people are still having their homes foreclosed on. we are not out of the woods by any means. that's why it is such a mistake to take the actions that are being proposed by republican independent economists have said that it would slow down the recovery and we got a long ways to go as you said instead the republicans and their new budget are focused now on taking away
important protections for people including taking away the medicare guarantee for seniors. so they are off on another wholes capathe paid when it comes to their escapade. we are going to cut investments for jobs and get rid of the medicare for seniors. that is just the wrong set of priorities, we believe. tavis: temperatures, republican democrats, republicans, you guys had your date night as it was called. sitting across the aisle from each other and the word of the day around that time was civility. i want your honest assessment about how civil this debate has been when you got the president saying the president needs to act like grownups and you have republicans saying his proposal is smoke and mirrors. what about that civility? >> i think we have had a very
vigorous debate over this. i think for the most part it has listen vigorous but civil. you haven't had the kind of outrageous allegations and name calling that we have seen in the past. that doesn't mean that that will last forever, but i think on this budget debate, you had some very heated rhetoric, yes, but so far i haven't seen it go into sort of orbit like we have seen in the case before. now that is no guarantee. i think when we were all able to get together at the state of the union address it was a moment to express the need for a more civil debate. i hope that will continue, but again, it is going to be vigorous debate. i hope people will still keep their remarks within the bounds of civility. tavis: finally, right quick, given the debate about these issues that we have talked about in this conversation tonight, how does this debate about the budget recast the politics as we move into the future, namely into this presidential election season?
>> well, it raises a very critical choice for the american people both in the budget that we were discussing in the budget committee today for the coming fiscal year and for the next couple of years. and the fundamental choice is this. if you want to drow the economy, if you want to help -- grow the economy, if you want to help put people back to work if, you want to reduce the deficit in the long term, you to make the right choices. you shouldn't have the folks at the very top not paying their fair share. what we have asked is they simply go back to the same top tax rate that was in place during the clinton administration. during those years we had 20 million jobs created. we had economic growth. you came in and had the bush tax cuts. they did not generate the kind of economic growth they said. at the end of those eight years, you actually lost jobs. we have a budget proposal that will invest in the future and education and make sure that we invest in critical infrastructure, science,
research, opportunities for the american people and theirs says no we're going to cut back on that so they don't have to ask the folks at the very top to pay what they were during the clinton administration. that is a fundamental debate we are going to have. i'm sure the president will be taking that debate right into the elections. it is about values and choices and i think the american people will have a very clear decision about which of those choices they need to make going into the next election. tavis: congressman, thanks for your insights. good to have you on the program tonight. >> thanks for having me. tavis: up next, "sex and the city" star kim cattrall with a new movie. we'll talk about it in a moment. stay with us. please welcome kim cattrall to this program. she is a five-time emany nominee for her work, of course on "sex and the city." you can see her in the new film
"meet monica velour". love the name. "meet monica velour." the film opens wider around the country. here now a scene from "meet monica velour." >> i just don't think you should do it. i could hp you. >> look. i don't need another guy trying to run my life. you're not my boyfriend. you're some kid i took home because i felt sorry for you. and you're 17. all you know about is book reports and dances at the gym and some stupid movies i did 30 years ago. that's fantasy. this is reality. that's something you know nothing about it. the reality is it is me and every other woman in the world. we have minds of our own. tavis: i knew i wanted to see this for one simple reason. i heard it was about a trailer park in indiana. i grew up in a trailer park in indiana. so i wanted to see it then i heard it was about a stripper.
i was like oh, yeah, i am there. then i heard you were the star and i said i'm definitely there. great to have you on the program. >> great to be here. tavis: i read somewhere? you add read a script and it scares you, you knew it was something you wanted to do. what scared you about "meet monica velour"? >> i think everything scared me about it. i did a film called "tribute" and worked with the great jack lemon. i asked him as starting up in my career, i said how do you make these choices? he said i basit on what gets me going. what scares me. i never forgot that. so i followed that advice. i think playing a woman, i play women who are very strong and successful and courageous in their own way and this was a woman without hope. and dependent really know how i could -- didn't really know how i could access that. then i thought about a woman
fighting for the custody of her child. i think most women can get behind that. also she is marginalized. she has been a huge snar the 1970's. a huge -- star in the 1970's. a huge porn star and then a stripper and she had a baby and now she could get any job. she went from being marginalized to being an outcast. i feel as a woman in my 50's that can happen as an actress in in your mid 30's you have like anics operation date that can happen. i was so fortunate that at age 41 to star in "sex and the city." it opened up a lot of doors. i wanted to fight for this role and i did. tavis: i think i know what you meant by this. i want to make sure they understand it. the one thing about humanity that always encourages and empowers me is that when we
don't have anything else, the one thing that we do have hope. when you say she is a woman without hope, that's almost without anything. what do you mean? >> she can't get a job. the only friends she has are bikers and she is either drunk or stoned and snorting meth. her child, she can't get to. she has no peace. she is at a real crossroads. when this young boy, this 17-year-old boy, who has this fantasy of what a woman is, which is monica velour everyone he is sort of like a white knight. they can go on to the next stage of their lives. tavis: when you say white knight, how is a boy a white knight for a woman who has -- >> well, he doesn't see her as a washed up porn star, stripper. he sees her as this fan it's a
cal woman that he theys is the embodiment of everything a man could wish for. she does this horrific strip to "tonight i celebrate my love for you." the moves and everything else, he doesn't see her any differently than he saw her when she was 20 and he keeps coming to her and saying i want to help. i can be together. i want to be with you. you're ok. these two misfits have found each other. it reminded me so much of when i read the script of "harold and maude." this was a role that i couldn't believe that actresses were not screaming over each other to get because there was courtney love, madonna, they were all approached. i think because of the sexuality in it, it was frightening. also with keith bearden, a first
time director and then having to put on weight and looking a certain way and being a certain way. a character who is very narcissistic as well. tavis: you suggested earlier that you wanted to fight for this. what do you mean by having to fight to get the role. when you think of the success that you have had, one doesn't necessarily think that kim cattrall has to fight for a particular role. >> i think the thing that has been difficult in some ways or challenging is that when you're considered the television actress and -- which is silly. you're an actor, you're an actress. that's sorts of what you do. you play an iconic character like samantha jones. people want you to be that. even doing the movie "ghost writer" with polanski. keith had never even seen "sex and the city" if you can believe it. tavis: i can't imagine.
[laughter] >> so this whole idea of reinventing yourself is quite ridiculous in a sense because i've always been an actor, you know? i've just played certain roles and people think of you that way. so this i felt was an opportunity first of all that scared me and to play the best part that i've ever had on film and to -- just, i really engrossed myself and keith and i rehearsed. we rented a rehearsal hall in broadway area of new york and really broke it down and talked about every aspect of this character. her voice. he based it on three specific women in her life. at the end of the shooting day i was like this all the time. the cigarette or whatever. my back was killing me. but it was -- tavis: 25 extra pound also do that. >> exactly. tavis: i'm a witness. >> and putting that weight on was actually quite freeing and liberating. that was one of the things he said.
i'm going to change people's perception. no one has ever seen you like that. i was like including me. tavis: liberating how? >> most of your life as an actor in hollywood, you have to look, you have to work out. you have to -- you rarely get to play someone who is just human, who is real. you know, who is overweight. even not grossly overweight, but has aspects of everyday life and to play that and to breathe life into it is a great joy instead of playing something super human or uber ambitious or courageous. there is some kind of character that really only exists in the movies. this woman at one point she said to him, you don't want to live your life because you're scared it is not going to be like a movie. that is true for a lot of us. tavis: has there ever been in a point in your career that you were concerned that you would not be able to disconnect who
people think you are from sex? not every role you play obviously has had sex at the core of it but you have become so famous playing a role where your sexual inhibations are -- >> there is a true distinction between sexy or something that is sexualizing you. i think that is very clear. i think in my early career, a lot of things that were offered was just what was out there. i was always a theater rat, so for me, my film career, when i was younger, always sort of subsidized my theater habits. then i thought waia t nute, i want something to matter too.a now going to make choices onot just what scares me but what i feel is a portrayal of women and different kinds of women in the world today. tavis: i was going to ask you how fondly you look back on those years. maybe i should offer you a
swents a blank in it. when you look back on those years, you think what? >> on the "sex and the city" years? oh, such a tremendous amount of fun and excitement and joy. i mean, in this post feminist world to have a show like "sex and the city" come along is quite extraordinary. and bringing women together, i'm a child to have 1960's and the 1970's. we were fighting for women's rights then. i think that we sort of slid back. it is -- we've had other concerns and i know that and the world is in a very tough place but we still don't have equal pay. we still don't have equal rights. so that is something that needs attention paid. tavis: i wonder if this new project, "meet monica velour," says anything subjectly, subliminaly about that fight for equality, that fight for the
full humanity. you know what i'm getting at here? >> i think you're absolutely right. i think that is very perceptive. when i read the script as a woman, i decide keith thank you very much for writing a feminist film. it is very -- you know, when i have a feminist platform people say that is because you're a woman, but when a man does it, it is so much more powerful, i believe. he understood. just that little scene and clip. this is reality. women deal with it. this is who we are. this is what we're like. you can't -- you can't deny it. and this is a young boy who is learning and he is not just learning about sex and disappointment and illusionment or reality meeting fantasy. he is also learning about life. and women. tavis: yeah. >> they come together. you can't have one without the other. tavis: that's a good thing. [laughter] i wouldn't want to be in the world if you can't not make that
connection. just take me out of here. how school that name? monica velour? >> it is the best. just says it all. originally the name of the film was called" miss january." because she was miss january. tavis: i highly recommend this movie. go see "meet monica velour" starring kim cattrall. kim, good to have you here. >> oh, tavis, i'm so sorry it took me so long to get here. i'm busy. tavis: nothing wrong with being busy in this town. that's our show for tonight. thanks for tuning in. until next time, keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. tavis: hi. i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for the first of two special nights with iconic talk show host larry king with yours truly.
that's next time. see you then. >> all i know is his name is james, and he needs extra help with his reading. >> i am james. >> yes. >> to everyone making a difference -- >> thank you. >> you help us all live better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley with every question and every answer, nationwide insurance is proud to join tavis in working to improve financial literacy economic empowerment one conversation at a time. nationwide is on your side. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> be more.